Living Room Cupboard – Part 4

As of my last update, the cupboard was painted white, but the dark blue laminate top had to go.  Instead of replacing it, I decided to try creating a new top, out of stained plywood, which would slide over the existing top.  So Thursday morning I headed over to the hardware store and bought a fancy piece of ¾” thick plywood.  I had them cut it to the exact size of the existing top.  To be specific, 88⅝” long x 20⅛” wide.  I also had them cut a long, narrow piece [88⅝” long x 2⅜”], which I planned to screw at a 90° angle to the top, to hang down and cover the front lip of the blue laminate:


Then I headed over to the Benjamin Moore store to discuss stain.  The woman behind the counter asked what I was staining and I said “plywood”.  She slowly raised one eyebrow [no joke] and said “you’re staining plywood???”  I assured her I wasn’t an idiot, and told her if it looked like crap, I’d flip the plywood over and paint the other side.  She liked that idea better.  She warned me that plywood is very porous, so I’d probably want to go with a stain a shade lighter than I’d normally pick.  And stick with one coat, not two.  She handed me a ZAR stain brochure and sent me back home to pick a color:

zar salem maple stain for the plywood top and lip of living room cupboard        zar interior oil based wood stain in salem maple

Hubby and I agreed on “Salem Maple”, so I headed back to buy my stain.  This time a man came up to help me, and I told him I needed a container of Salem Maple stain.  He asked how much, so I said “I’m staining a piece of wood roughly 7′ x 2′”.  He thought a pint would do the trick.  Then my friend behind the counter piped up and said “she’s staining PLYWOOD, Tim”.  *eyeroll*.  So he suggested perhaps a quart, to be on the safe side.

After getting home, I got my stain stuff all set to go – quart of stain, paint key, stirrer, foam brushes, rag to wipe off the excess.   And then my brilliant hubby said “perhaps you should stain a small piece first?  Make sure it looks good before jumping in and doing the whole thing?”… *blink blink*… why didn’t I think of that?!?  Like seriously, why didn’t I think of that?  HA!  So I rummaged around in my basement workshop and found a small square of ¾” plywood leftover from the cat platforms.  I stained it and waited a couple of hours for it to dry.  And loved it!  Hubby gave it the thumbs up, too.  It looks good with the wine rack [to the left of the square in the following pic] and the other wood in and around the living room:


So I hauled the big pieces out to the yard and stained away!  I didn’t remember ever staining anything before, but after starting, I remembered staining a couple things in Junior High “shop” class, and I think I helped my Dad stain a few things too, when I was little.  But it’s been a good 30 years!  I was surprised at how easy and fun it was!

50f        50g

50h        50i

I think it came out awesome!  And per the advice of the Benjamin Moore staff, I soaked my foam brush and rag with lots of water and set them in the shade to dry.  Then tossed them in the outside trash.  At least if they spontaneously combust they won’t take out the house!

As it dried, it occurred to me that I sort of measured wrong… I had never fully envisioned how the top and front piece would look when they were screwed together and laid over the blue laminate.  And when I started to visualize it, I realized that as you stood next to the cupboard and looked down, it would look like this:

stained plywood edge

You’d be staring at a beautiful piece of stained [ply]wood, and the edge of the front lip piece!  D’OH!!! I explained my dilemma to hubby, and he didn’t think it would be too big of a deal, but I was really agitated about it.  So, after about a half hour of pacing, I went back to the hardware store and had them cut me a NEW piece of plywood, with slightly altered dimensions.  Instead of being the same width as the blue laminate top, I had them cut a piece ¾” wider, to accommodate the width of the front lip.  And had them cut a new long, skinny piece ¾” narrower than the original.  And yes, the hardware store men did have a good chuckle at my expense, but they agreed that DIY is a whole lot of “live and learn” and “learn from your mistakes”.  I hauled my new pieces home, laid them out in the driveway, and stained them.

As that coat of stain dried, I got to thinking about a top coat.  It seemed to me that some kind of sealant was probably necessary… so I made a 3rd trip to the Benjamin Moore store and asked the woman about that.  She was like “um, YEAH – of course it needs a top coat!”.  I was thinking to myself “then why didn’t you mention that earlier today when I was buying stain!!!” but I just smiled nicely and asked her to point me in the right direction.  She suggested a quart of ZAR “waterborne oil modified polyurethane”, which cleans up with soap and water.  I decided on a Satin finish, since I didn’t want it too shiny.


After letting the stain dry overnight, I painted on a coat of the polyurethane.  It looks awesome!

plywood stained with zar salem maple for living room cupboard topper

I have one more coat of polyurethane to go, then I’ll screw the lip up into the top piece and we can slide the new top onto the living room cupboard and see how it looks!  If we like it, we’ll be good to go!  If it looks like crap, I’ll flip it over and paint it.

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2 thoughts on “Living Room Cupboard – Part 4”

  1. Can’t wait to see it – I’m sure the end product will be just perfect! You’ve inherited the gift of DIY from your father, certainly not from me.


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